Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

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lumenF
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Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:55 am

Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by lumenF » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:14 pm

Basically, my goal is to get first-hand experience with Finnish culture and language, and my current plan is to visit Finland within the next few months. I am between jobs yet have a fair bit of money saved up, and I'm quite fine with the challenge of getting Finns to open up.

My plan is pretty fresh though, so I'm considering a lot of alternatives. I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts.


Tourists making friends with Finns:

1) Are people open to talking (in Finnish) to strangers in bars? Is it appropriate for a guy to buy drinks for other guys or girls in a non-romantic fashion, and would that help? I've done this in Tokyo, fwiw, and was pretty pleased with the outcome (talking to strangers, I mean; didn't need to try buying drinks).

2) Are there clubs or other activities that a tourist (staying for 60 days) would be welcome at? Would a 28 year old American with basic Finnish conversational skills be welcome as a casual at, for example, Finnish university clubs/events or other social experiences?

3) Any out of the way places that would welcome a tourist volunteer? Or other opportunities for someone who's got nothing but time on their hands and doesn't really care about "just sightseeing"?


Studying in Finland:

4) Supposing I became fluent in Finnish first, any recommendations (both school and subject) for an American to get a master's degree in Finland? I already have a bachelor's (in Cognitive Studies from Vanderbilt if that's relevant) and I would be looking to either (a) study one of the diverse subjects I'm interested in (Software, Elementary Education, Linguistics, or Finnish itself), or (b) get training in something in-demand to get a job in Finland like Nurse Practitioner. Definitely a possibility I'd research a lot more before taking up, but I've worked or volunteered in a wide variety of jobs and I'm really not picky about work.

5) Other education opportunities that one could do in less than 90 days? I'm pretty confident in my abilty to learn languages, so I'd be looking more for opportunities that are more about immersion in Finnish culture.


Opportunities outside Finland, or other considerations:

6) Any suggestions for online Finnish-language experiences? Or just getting more info? E.g. forums where Finns discuss everyday life, politics, work, hobbies, etc. Definitely not the only thing I'd do, but it may help give me a better idea of how to make the most of my visit, where to look more for opportunities, etc.

7) Other relevant things you can think of, like perhaps Finnish films/literature, a Finnish-speaking community in America, etc. Or just logistics stuff that's already on your mind. Or jokes, experiences you want to share, etc.



Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

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biscayne
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:43 pm

Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by biscayne » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:40 am

Oh god

Yes, drunk Finns will talk to you in bars and clubs and be chatty and friendly. And then you will never see them again, or if you did they would not remember you. You will also find it easy enough to get laid via the same method of chatting to drunken people in bars. Most likely you won't see any of them again either.

"supposing I become fluent in Finnish"......... you won't. Not by doing anything online etc. Finland is full of Americans and other nationalities who have learnt Finnish for 20 years and can order coffee, beer and do basic grocery shopping. Really. I know. You don't believe me. You are different. I know.....Yep, there are the odd few here and there who have learnt to speak, read and write fluently. The odd few. Again, I know you don't believe me. But, no worries. Go ahead, move, spend your last penny, cos you will burn through money in Finland like an Aussie bush fire. If you are one of the odd few who learns perfect Finnish in less than 1 year, then you really are special.

A degree in cognitive what? Is there a specific career path you can follow with that? Without perfect knowledge of the language of the country you live in? And in the meantime you want to train as a "nurse practitioner" because that might be needed? A nurse practitioner is a Registered Nurse who has a degree in Nursing and then has a masters in advanced nursing preferably a specific masters which allows you to be a Nurse Practitioner. It takes about 4 years for a bachelors and 2 for the masters. In Europe. If your degree is from the US it would need to be accepted which is a lengthy and expensive (about 800e) procedure. Finland does need nurses, who can speak Finnish, and who are willing to work in elderly care because that is where the jobs are.

But, good luck.


lumenF
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Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:55 am

Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by lumenF » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:39 am

biscayne wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:40 am
Oh god

Yes, drunk Finns will talk to you in bars and clubs and be chatty and friendly. And then you will never see them again, or if you did they would not remember you. You will also find it easy enough to get laid via the same method of chatting to drunken people in bars. Most likely you won't see any of them again either.
That's interesting. For frame of reference, what experience have you had with Finnish culture? Honestly, my skepticism has a lot less to do with thinking I'm somehow going to master the language (I didn't even say that) and a lot more to do with it sounding like you don't even like Finland. Have you had any positive experiences in Finland at all?


FinnGuyHelsinki
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by FinnGuyHelsinki » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:37 am

1) It depends on the people and the situation. Buying drinks is in no way expected, offering to buy drinks straight away could seem dubious.

2) Summer time is loaded with events; music, art, sports, cuisine,... e.g. in Helsinki https://www.hel.fi/Helsinki/fi/tapahtumakalenteri For more of an "insider" type of things, it would help if you had a friend to tag along with, first of all to know what/where.

3) There are lots of volunteer work offerings, by churches, WWF, http://www.kansalaisareena.fi/citizen-forum ,... I have no idea what type of requirements they may have for the volunteers.

4) I'd suggest that you study something you yourself have a keen interest in.The availability of jobs should be secondary, unless totally non-existent.

5) No idea of those, apart from the various commercial "courses" anyone can take (be it martial arts, pole dancing or whatever).

6) I'm not aware of forums (worth much anything) that cover a wide variety of topics, better ones are centered around a certain interest, a hobby, a product brand, or what have you. Might be worthwhile checking out ones you are interested in.

7) Immerse yourself (also) in spoken language, which is - as you probably already understand - a bit different from correctly written one. Finnish radio channels: https://livetaajuus.fi/


Rosamunda
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by Rosamunda » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:21 am

Consider spending some of your time away from the Helsinki region. In Helsinki everyone will talk to you in English. Also the culture is quite different to other parts of the country.

If learning Finnish is your goal then look for short term residential courses eg Larkkulla offers summer courses with basic accommodation. But you will not meet many Finns while you are studying Finnish.

Oulu university offers degree programs in education in English if you want to study here. It is unlikely you would pass the highly competitive entrance exams to get a place on a university course taught in Finnish.


lumenF
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by lumenF » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:11 pm

FinnGuy: thanks a bunch for the links and tips, especially the radio for puhekieli. And that makes sense about the forums -- I'll try researching by specific topics and problems.

Rosamunda: I'll definitely look into places outside Helsinki. Hadn't thought about the culture difference, but it seems obvious now that you point it out. And thanks for the tip about university -- if it's highly competitive sounds like just visiting is the smarter plan.


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Keravalainen
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Location: Finland

Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by Keravalainen » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:28 am

Hi!
When in Helsinki, a good place to practice your spoken Finnish is a Finnish Language Cafe at some libraries.
- They're free of charge and you just walk in.
https://www.hel.fi/maahanmuuttajat/en/f ... age-cafes/
Welcome to Finland!
Image


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wolf80
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Location: Helsinki

Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by wolf80 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:25 pm

biscayne wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:40 am
Oh god

Yes, drunk Finns will talk to you in bars and clubs and be chatty and friendly. And then you will never see them again, or if you did they would not remember you. You will also find it easy enough to get laid via the same method of chatting to drunken people in bars. Most likely you won't see any of them again either.

"supposing I become fluent in Finnish"......... you won't. Not by doing anything online etc. Finland is full of Americans and other nationalities who have learnt Finnish for 20 years and can order coffee, beer and do basic grocery shopping. Really. I know. You don't believe me. You are different. I know.....Yep, there are the odd few here and there who have learnt to speak, read and write fluently. The odd few. Again, I know you don't believe me. But, no worries. Go ahead, move, spend your last penny, cos you will burn through money in Finland like an Aussie bush fire. If you are one of the odd few who learns perfect Finnish in less than 1 year, then you really are special.

A degree in cognitive what? Is there a specific career path you can follow with that? Without perfect knowledge of the language of the country you live in? And in the meantime you want to train as a "nurse practitioner" because that might be needed? A nurse practitioner is a Registered Nurse who has a degree in Nursing and then has a masters in advanced nursing preferably a specific masters which allows you to be a Nurse Practitioner. It takes about 4 years for a bachelors and 2 for the masters. In Europe. If your degree is from the US it would need to be accepted which is a lengthy and expensive (about 800e) procedure. Finland does need nurses, who can speak Finnish, and who are willing to work in elderly care because that is where the jobs are.

But, good luck.
I would mostly agree with this. Most foreigners who learned fluent Finnish are in a relationship with a Finnish partner and had a lot of training this way. In combination with language courses and a lot of personal investment. But it takes a very patient partner and can put a strain on the relationship.

I would say, either find a Master's program in English and study this (though in this economy I would have a VERY good look at the job prospects) or find an English-speaking job in your area before you come to Finland. That is rather unlikely, even if your area has a need of people, a Bachelor degree is not counted as much here, Finns graduate at Master level as a standard. Basically, you'd be under qualified even for an internship.

If people are telling you things like this, I would advise to consider it carefully, and not see it as negativity. I've seen so many people fail in this country, burn through all their money, having to leave the country on a flight ticket bought from a loan from their country's embassy.

Finland is a hard country for foreigners. Unless you are highly specialized in one of a few fields, there are not many jobs for foreigners. Yes, there are a lot of foreigners who made it here - but it's a minority. The unemployment numbers for foreigners are through the roof. There is high competition for basic cleaning jobs, for which you mostly also need basic Finnish. Finding a professional job is hard.

That doesn't mean you won't make it. It means that you have to do a proper reality check, and accept there is a good chance that you might fail. I'm not sure in what area of cognitive sciences you are, but I am rather sure if I say there is no big need for you on the job market. Absolutely not with a Bachelor's degree. If you choose the path of studying in Finland, choose your field very wisely. Don't count on learning the language to a professional level during your studies, it won't happen.


lumenF
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by lumenF » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:05 pm

wolf80 wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:25 pm
If people are telling you things like this, I would advise to consider it carefully, and not see it as negativity. I've seen so many people fail in this country, burn through all their money, having to leave the country on a flight ticket bought from a loan from their country's embassy.
If I expressed any frustration, it's because I felt my thread was getting derailed towards an oblique afterthought. Studying in Finland, much less the commitment entailed in gaining fluency and accepting a job, were just alternatives that I was willing to consider. My goal is just to get first-hand experience with Finnish culture, and my biggest concern is (or was) that Finns would consider a person "just visiting" not worth taking seriously. I'm guessing that posting in the Moving To Finland subforum caused some confusion, but there isn't a "just visiting" subforum, so I'm not sure I could've picked a better place.

That said, it's good to know that whatever difficulty I will have in getting Finns to open up during a 60-day sojourn would pale to the difficulty of living in Finland, even if I were willing to commit to that.


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wolf80
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Location: Helsinki

Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by wolf80 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:20 pm

lumenF wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:05 pm
wolf80 wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:25 pm
If people are telling you things like this, I would advise to consider it carefully, and not see it as negativity. I've seen so many people fail in this country, burn through all their money, having to leave the country on a flight ticket bought from a loan from their country's embassy.
If I expressed any frustration, it's because I felt my thread was getting derailed towards an oblique afterthought. Studying in Finland, much less the commitment entailed in gaining fluency and accepting a job, were just alternatives that I was willing to consider. My goal is just to get first-hand experience with Finnish culture, and my biggest concern is (or was) that Finns would consider a person "just visiting" not worth taking seriously. I'm guessing that posting in the Moving To Finland subforum caused some confusion, but there isn't a "just visiting" subforum, so I'm not sure I could've picked a better place.

That said, it's good to know that whatever difficulty I will have in getting Finns to open up during a 60-day sojourn would pale to the difficulty of living in Finland, even if I were willing to commit to that.
The problem is not, that people won't take you seriously. They won't be too much interested in you either way.

The real issue is that you will only get a glimpse of the real Finland if you stay a short time. I see it in all the Erasmus students who stay one term, two at best. Their image of Finland is extremely distorted - by the short time of their stay, by their knowledge that they will leave again in a short while, and by their lack of immersion into Finnish culture.

And that brings us back to people here not being too interested in you, making it difficult to experience the real Finland. Finns are not the most social people anyway. They often form their friendships early in life and it is hard to bond with them later. (Unless they are drunk, but as already said here, then they won't remember you the next day.) And then you are a foreigner who will soon leave again. So why even bother?

So, think about what exactly you want here. Lower your expectations. Lower them again. You like: not talking to people, being alone, doing things on your own, avoiding neighbors, pretending other people don't exist, being alone in nature? You can have this here. But don't have the big expectations of Finnish culture. Finnish culture will avoid you, too.


harakka
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by harakka » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:39 am

Plan to visit in July, August, September. Later in the autumn is not a great time to visit. Don't limit yourself to the Helsinki region, with 2-3 months you'll have time to tour around the whole country.

Try to network with Finns via Couch Surfing, Hospitality Club or the like. I don't know about bars specifically, but it really is difficult for adults to make friends in Finland - even for the Finns.

For volunteering, how about WWOOFing? Many volunteering opportunities in Finland are more like something you do once a week or so... Longer projects fill up early and often require a participation fee.

Studying; there are short term courses in Adult Education Centres and Folk High Schools, but there isn't a good search engine that would cover all of these courses. You'd have to check each school website separately.


biscayne
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by biscayne » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:45 am

Look - I was not deliberately trying to be negative and sorry if you took it that way. Perhaps my typical Northern European sarcasm does not go down well with Americans, not sure.

What I was trying to say, is that based on my long experience of Finland, and I say this without any bias etc., Americans in particular tend to view their chances of making it in Finland very optimistically indeed. I achieved a B1 standard in Finnish which is what you need to be allowed to study via Finnish in the non-University Colleges - these are what used to be called Polytechnical Colleges in Europe, a third level institution where you can study various things such as Nursing (although in many EU countries Nursing actually is a University Subject) and certain types of Engineering. You can go on and do a Masters in the University with a degree from these types of Colleges too. You cannot study at the University with B1, you need more. And I already spoke 2 other languages other than my native English. And spoke them well. And still found Finnish very hard indeed. I personally did not meet an American who had achieved this. Surely there are some, but I personally did not meet or hear of any. Other nationalities yes.

In terms of friends - it is just that as we get older it is harder. People tend to have their social group at your age already and it can be hard to break in to that. Getting a Finnish s.o. is probably your best bet. But, of course, it's unlikely that people set out to get a Finnish partner just to "fit it" (she says sarcastically... because some do.....) What I meant about bars was that Finns like to have a few drinks and will be chatty etc., but I really don't see that as a way of you making "real" friends. However, if you have experience of this and feel it's the way to go, then off with you...knock yourself out

As for jobs - well unwittingly you may have stumbled on something. Finland, like many EU countries is experiencing a Nursing shortage and it is possible to study for a Nursing degree through English. Previously you did not need Finnish but now you have to have achieved a B level (I think) in order to be accepted because you need to do your practicals in Finnish Hospitals with Finnish patients, but the bulk of study is via English. You could aim for this. Be aware, that you will be looking at a career in elder care (most likely) as that is where most of the jobs for foreigners are. Sure, it is possible you'll be a high-flying nurse in a big hospital, but the anecdotal evidence suggests not. Many foreign nurses leave Finland for the UK etc in order to further their careers. Plus the salary is bad in Finland relative to costs of living. But, if you have some real pressing reason why you want to be in Finland this could be worth exploring.

As has been said, a bachelor degree is worthless in Finland.


HannahBanana
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Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by HannahBanana » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:11 am

In Finland the Master's usually needs to be in "relevant field", ie. I have a BA in Russian language and culture, so I proceeded to do MA in Russian language and culture and am now very inactively doing a PhD in the same subject field. Nursing is actually a four-year BA degree in Finland and most Universities of Applied Sciences do offer programmes with tuition exclusively in English. I'm also enrolled in a Nursing programme and my Uni (of AS) does offer a variety of study programmes in English. You can check www.opintopolku.fi to find a course / degree programme suitable for you.

Also, idk about all the negativity here about us Finns. The best way to ensure you have company during your visit and someone to show you around is to sign up for FB groups that interest you (for example music forums) and make friends through there. Then, when you come over, you already have contacts you can spend time with. And, there is of course Tinder... You don't have to be looking to get laid / find a relationship there, if you're lucky (and a guy, because girls will probably just get loads of unwanted d***k pics) you might find people there.

Also, biscayne is SO wrong about a BA being worthless here. In Finland you need A degree to get a job, doesn't necessarily have to be in a relevant field. I have several colleagues who only have a BA and they're doing fantastic (me and my colleagues are financial advisors in a major Nordic bank). If you want to have a very specific role however, such as a Scrum Master for an IT company, you would need to either have a degree in a relevant field or a VERY impressive resumé. ALL of the University of Applied Sciences degrees are BA-level degrees and people are finding jobs on those just fine. You don't have to be an Einstein and a triple-PhD to get a job in Finland - as a matter of fact, being over-qualified can also be a hindrance, as most jobs require work-specific knowledge and provide training on the job and if you are a triple-PhD in rocket science, astronomy and Spanish, they'll think you'll jus bugger off as soon as you find something more interesting.

Good luck!


lumenF
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Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:55 am

Re: Getting a taste of Finnish language and culture by an extended visit? Or perhaps study?

Post by lumenF » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:33 pm

@wolf80: fair enough; that's a definite risk, and I appreciate your relaying the anecdote about Erasmus students.

@biscayne: I very much appreciate the more sober approach you've now taken. As for my approach, I rewrote my initial post before submitting to come across as clear and confident, much more so than I actually feel about this whole process, so I can very well understand your being keen, like wolf80, to encourage caution and deflate any perceived overconfidence.

That said, I've more or less made up my mind to learn more about Finnish culture, hence my insistence on focusing on what is the best way to get first-hand experience with Finland, regardless of how bleak that best way is. In that vein, I appreciate the clarification about bars. I have not had any success making real friends in bars even in my home country, so when I mentioned that I was hoping for elaboration on more effective ways to make friends. But if your primary experience is that even this is not a good way to make friends (i.e. one of the better ways in a more or less impenetrable culture) that's a helpful response.

That is good to hear about Nursing. My father and I have been discussing my going into nursing, but I had not thought to focus on elderly care. Once I have learned more about Finland, that might be worth focusing on. And the fact that it's not the best from a purely financial motivation is helpful to know.

---
Editted to Add:
HannahBanana wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:11 am
The best way to ensure you have company during your visit and someone to show you around is to sign up for FB groups that interest you (for example music forums) and make friends through there. Then, when you come over, you already have contacts you can spend time with. And, there is of course Tinder... You don't have to be looking to get laid / find a relationship there, if you're lucky (and a guy, because girls will probably just get loads of unwanted d***k pics) you might find people there.
That's a great suggestion about joining an online interest group. I made a friend online in Sweden that way. Also, thanks for the input on the value of degrees. There are programs here in Nursing that only take a year with a bachelor's, so if it takes 4 years in Finland I'll have to do research on how much it translates.


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